The First Reading and the Responsorial Psalms contain tones of restlessness and complain.


The prophet Jeremiah in the First Reading was experiencing such tumult as he fought futilely against the onslaught of despair, sorrow, and terror. As a prophet of God, he was afraid for his life, so much so that he scolded God for beguiling him with a cause and a mission only to allow him to fall into the hands of the enemy – “You seduced me, LORD, and I let myself be seduced; you were too strong for me, and you prevailed. All day long I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me.” (Jeremiah 20:7) Jeremiah accuses the Lord of deceiving him. This reading underscores the importance of having an honest and authentic conversation with God. Jeremiah did not crouch behind idioms and pleasantries, but plainly spoke to God about how he felt. In this honest conversation, he found healing, and this conversation tells us that despite him being angry at God, he still maintained confidence in God. He was broken beyond measure having hit rock bottom in his ministry, he then spoke plainly about his feelings with God, and then trusted that God would take care of the rest.


The Psalm is an echo of this – and comprises of a lament complaining of suffering in language both metaphorical (Psalm 69:2–3, 15–16, the waters of chaos) and literal (Psalm 69:4, 5, 9, 11–13, exhaustion, alienation from family and community, false accusation. Yet ends on a note of confidence.


The Second Reading tells us that the cause of this sorrow and terror, is sin. St. Paul reflects on the sin of Adam (Genesis 3:1–13) in the light of the redemptive mystery of Christ. Sin, as used in the singular by Paul, refers to the dreadful power that has gripped humanity, which is now in revolt against the Creator and engaged in the exaltation of its own desires and interests. However no one has a right to say, “Adam made me do it,” for all are culpable (Romans 5:12): Gentiles under the demands of the law written in their hearts (Romans 2:14–15), and Jews under the Mosaic covenant. Through the Old Testament law, the sinfulness of humanity that was operative from the beginning (Romans 5:13) found further stimulation, with the result that sins were generated in even greater abundance. According to Romans 5:15–21, God’s act in Christ is in total contrast to the disastrous effects of the virus of sin that invaded humanity through Adam’s crime. This reading ends on a hopeful note that the Grace of God is greater than sin and its effects.


The Gospel tells us that in following Jesus, we would face many obstacles. A Christian will encounter in his mission many perils and persecutions. The Christian’s task is to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God, and Jesus exhorts us his disciples to be bold and courageous in this proclamation. The Son of Man will acknowledge those who have acknowledged Jesus, and those who deny him will be denied (by the Son of Man) before the angels of God at the judgment. Here Jesus and the Son of Man are identified, and the acknowledgment or denial will be before his heavenly Father. One who denies Jesus in order to save one’s earthly life will be condemned to everlasting destruction; loss of earthly life for Jesus’ sake will be rewarded by everlasting life in the kingdom.


By the Grace of God, 

Brian Bartholomew Tan